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New Polish PM seeks to rebuild trust

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 01.10.2014 10:43
Poland's new PM, Ewa Kopacz, has told parliament “rebuilding Poles' trust” is her most important goal, in her first major policy speech since taking over as head of government from Donald Tusk.

PM Kopacz delivers 'expose' to parliament: photo - PAP/Radek Pietruszka

“Poles do not want revolution but they do expect change,” Prime Minister Kopacz said in her 'expose' speech to parliament, one year ahead of a scheduled general election and before key local elections in November.

Ewa Kopacz promised a “pragmatic” approach to the conflict in Ukraine, “but will not agree to a change in Europe's borders by force”.

President Bronislaw Komorowski was in the chamber for Kopacz's speech - in accordance with tradition - and the session is being overseen by Radoslaw Sikorski, moved from leading the foreign ministry in September's cabinet reshuffle to become Speaker of the House.

President Komorowski watches his new prime minister from the gallery: photo - PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The 57 year-old Kopacz is eager to use the speech, which she began just after 10 am, Wednesday morning, to stamp her mark on the government after emerging from the shadow of Donald Tusk, Poland's most successful prime minister in terms of electoral success in post-communist Poland, after winning elections in 2007 and 2011.

Tusk stood down as prime minister last month after being elected as president of the EU's European Council, a job he takes over from Herman Van Rompuy in December.

Tusk, who was also in the debating chamber, has the record for the longest 'expose' policy speech in recent years, notching up close to three hours on one occasion.

EU, economy

Ewa Kopacz told MPs that “maintaining Poland's strong position in the EU” was also a priority for her government and to achieve "energy security” for the country.

Maintaining a strong alliance with the United States was also a key goal, she said.

Joining the eurozone and adopting the European single currency was still a policy objective, she said, “but we still have homework to do to “fulfil criteria” demanded by the EU and European Central Bank.

She also promised a “wise balance” in tax policy and announced an “ambitious plan” for economic growth.

Earlier, Ireneusz Raś, an MP from the ruling Civic Platform party said that former finance minister Jacek Rostowski, sacked late last year in a cabinet reshuffle, had a “significant impact on the content of the speech,” he told the TVN24 broadcaster.

The prime minister promised parliament to fight growing obesity in children and introduce a ban on “junk food” in schools and promised to increase funding to build more state nurseries.

She also said that family policy should be concentrated on “encouraging, not discouraging, parents to work”.

After speaking for just under an hour, PM Kopacz ended the speech by asking for “100 days of cooperation” with her new government.

After the 'expose', opposition parties are to debate its contents and then a vote of confidence in the government will be held.

As PM Kopacz gave her speech to parliament, coal miners gathered outside the parliament building in protest against pay and conditions and cheap coal imports from Russia. (pg)

tags: Ewa Kopacz
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